McDonald’s Opens Vegetarian Restaurant In India

McDonald’s has found an interesting way to break into the second most populous nation on Earth, a nation which also happens to have large numbers of  people who don’t eat meat, and certainly don’t eat beef:

The standard-bearer of the hamburger, McDonald’s, is bowing to local demand and is opening a meat-free restaurant in India.

The global chain, whose best-known product is the Big Mac burger in a bun, says it will be its first vegetarian outlet.

McDonald’s, the world’s second biggest food outlet after Subway, increasingly adapts its range to local demand.

Both India’s Hindu majority and Muslims can eat the same meat-free dishes.

Religiously observant Hindus see cows as sacred and avoid beef, while Muslims view pigs as unclean and avoid pork.

According to the AFP news agency, McDonald’s will open the outlet in the middle of next year, near the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in northern India.

Religious authorities forbid consumption of meat at the shrine.

A spokesman for McDonald’s in northern India, Rajesh Kumar Maini, told the news agency: “There is a big opportunity for vegetarian restaurants as many Indians are vegetarian.

This isn’t entirely new, as McDonald’s often varies its menus in international locations based on local tastes, including vegimite in Australia, seafood in several Asian nations,  and lamb in several Arab nations. The small number of locations in India already have a varied menu that, when it comes to meat, seems to stick strictly with chicken. From a business point of view, it makes complete sense.

Matthew Yglesias, though, draws particular attention to the new Indian venture:

 But as well as being a way to try to penetrate the India market, if it takes off at all I imagine it’ll provide a valuable testing ground for the general concept. There are over 15 million vegetarians in the United States, for example, which is bigger than the population of Belgium, Greece, or Pennsylvania. A vegetarian fast food concept that works could have legs in many places around the world.

Frankly, I’m not so sure vegetarian fast food is going to be that big of a market in the U.S., but if tastes change we might just see it one day.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Not nationally, but in urban areas, vegetarian fast food can probably make a profit. Falafel stands have been around forever, and fries are pretty vegetarian friendly.

  2. ernieyeball says:

    The standard-bearer of the hamburger, McDonald’s, is bowing to local demand and is opening a meat-free restaurant in India.

    Free Market Capitalists providing something their customers want!
    What is the World coming to?

  3. @DC Loser:

    fries are pretty vegetarian friendly

    Not if you’re making them properly! 😉

  4. DC Loser says:

    The only place that makes them ‘properly’ is Belgium.

  5. Bennett says:

    I’ve had McDonald’s in several countries, including some African and ME ones. The food is of so much superior quality that you can’t believe the horse lips and bungholes we slop into our yaps here in the states. I refuse to believe a vegeterian only McD’s wouldn’t turn a profit in many US cities like NYC, SF, LA, even here in Nashville.

  6. mantis says:

    @DC Loser:

    The only place that makes them ‘properly’ is Belgium.

    And they are amazing there.

  7. ernieyeball says:

    @Bennett: Maybe you should get an investment group together, convince MickeyD it’s a good idea and open one up!

  8. Bennett says:

    @ernieyeball: It’s not a bad idea. Wish I didn’t have my hands full with another small business atm. Maybe when I’m older with some more money.

  9. anjin-san says:

    fries are pretty vegetarian friendly

    McDonalds used beef tallow as a flavoring agent in their fried for decades and was less than forthcoming about it.

  10. DC Loser says:

    That’s why the old McDonalds fries tasted better. But even if fried in vegetable oil, they’re still pretty good when they’re fresh out of the frier.